Latest nutrients research trial may open new doors


Professor Julia Rucklidge

30 January 2014

Nutrients are significantly better than placebo in the treatment of ADHD in adults in a rigorously controlled trial, a University of Canterbury (UC) research project has found.

UC Professor Julia Rucklidge says the results will open up new doors for children, teachers, families and adults with ADHD. About five per cent of New Zealanders suffer from ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

"It will help in treatment options for children with ADHD who may not tolerate medications or do not respond to the first line treatments. If supported by further studies, micronutrients may become a viable and acceptable treatment option for many families,’’ Professor Rucklidge says.

"We have recently received funding to run a similar type of trial with ADHD children and plan to launch this study and are now open to referrals.

"We are also conducting other clinical trials in the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group investigating different nutrient treatments across a wide range of symptoms, including depression, sleep and addictions. More information on our research can be found at: http://www.psyc.canterbury.ac.nz/research/Mental_Health_and_Nutrition/studies.shtml

"Although some practitioners have been using micronutrients to treat mental illness for many decades the research has been scant or non-existent.

"Many consumers and practitioners vouch for micronutrients as a treatment for all kinds of ailments, but too often their support is based on anecdotal evidence that is not backed by rigorous scientific approaches. As such, many scientists and clinicians have dismissed nutrients as a viable way forward due to this unfortunate history.

"The study needs to be replicated before we can give clear advice to people affected by ADHD. However, if replicated, it will offer people with ADHD another treatment option.

This is the first trial to show that the benefit of micronutrients for the treatment of ADHD symptoms is not simply due to the placebo effect, Professor Rucklidge says.

When people participate in trials they often get better simply from non-specific factors associated with trials. They are being cared for, they meet clinicians every couple of weeks and are monitor closely.

All these factors are known to have positive effects on people. In order for the field to take this treatment approach seriously, research that compared micronutrients to placebo was essential.

There were no adverse effects associated with trial participants taking the nutrients. Professor Rucklidge’s paper on the trial has just been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, one of the top psychiatric journals in the world.

Her research was largely funded by a private donation (Marie Lockie) alongside a small group (the Vic Davis Memorial Trust) devoted to supporting this approach to treating mental illness.

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